As humans we are part of the natural world and when our nervous system feels organized and well-regulated we are able to feel present and responsive to ourselves, to others, and to our ever-changing environment. This settled awareness may not feel accessible when we have the effects of stress or unresolved trauma in our system or when we are going through significant life changes and difficulties.
Somatic Experiencing helps to restore a feel of this natural flow connecting us with an innate process to reset our nervous system and release trauma.
Somatic Experiencing was developed by Peter Levine as a method to address trauma in the body and psyche.
He observed that animals in the wild are able to release highly charged experiences and come out of fight, flight and freeze states naturally whereas humans can accumulate the effects of an unresolved trauma in our autonomic nervous system causing symptoms of pain and dysfunction.
Levine developed a way to support completion and resolution of this activation helping us to come out of survival physiology to restore a sense of connection to ourselves.
As we experience life there are many circumstances and difficulties that can take us off centre and this can result in anything from a gentle "not feeling quite right" to finding it extremely difficult to live in our body from day to day.
Dr. Gabor Mate, an author and speaker on trauma, talks of the loss of connection to ourselves as a potential outcome of trauma, and that healing comes through recognizing resilience, and finding reconnection with ourselves.
The focus of Somatic Experiencing is to renegotiate what wants to be processed in our body and psyche and to do so as we stay present within an awareness of our capacity so that we are not re-traumatized. One of the hallmarks of SE is to be able to work with a little activation or charge as we stay within a window of tolerance or an honouring of where the nervous system is in any given moment which supports the ability to integrate the work.
One way to do this is to slow down movements and storytelling to gage how they can be worked with. This means that the practitioner may at times interrupt to support staying in connection with our inner wisdom that is organized and functional. It is often in the slowing down of the story-telling that we notice other information become available for a sense of a completion of the trauma, and a feeling of empowerment as we engage with the process. These are the "a-ha moments" and the places of reconnection to ourselves that can bring healing and a renewed energy.
The unique experiences each of us have, and the best response in any particular moment to relate to these experiences is best resolved when centred from within us - the SE practitioner is truly just a guide along the way to support connection to this inner wisdom so we can in the best way possible move forward in life.
The framework in SE for the language of working with stress & trauma is SIBAM which stands for:
S - sensations (the primary way of an embodied approach is tracking sensations that we feel in our body)
I - images (often people will experience images or colours as the process unfolds)
B - behaviour (movements of the body that come during the session like hands moving as the person talks)
A - affect or emotion (these come up naturally throughout the session in response to sensations & content)
M - meaning-making or story (memories can arise that help give more context & understanding, and as
experiences are integrated, there is an ability within us to take our own meaning from them - even if the
circumstance itself is unredeemable, there can be internal strength cultivated as we find our way through)
Identifying our resources is a way to help us stay present so that we have the capacity to be with the process and so that we can integrate the work done in the session. Each person may have different expressions of resourcing and examples could be: noticing when our body feels freer and letting that be experienced; orienting to something in the room that brings enjoyment like a painting on the wall or the colour of a throw pillow etc.; bringing a beloved pet to mind or a favourite activity - these resources will be explored with the practitioner during the session.
Polyvagal Theory was developed by the the neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges and provides a mapping of the states of our autonomic nervous system as we navigate what is supportive (cues of safety) and what is potentially threatening (cues of danger). It is a useful theory to help us learn to track what it is we need from moment to moment.
Videos to understand the nervous system and this theory are available on Youtube by Dr. Stephen Porges, Deb Dana and also Irene Lyon.
In an SE session as we learn to stay present to ourselves and respond with care to the states of fight, flight and freeze (experiencing the state and then the shift out of that state). As we understand this, we can then normalize our experience and feel more range of availability to experiences and relationships in daily living. The SE session brings awareness and identification of fight, flight and freeze through the practice of engaging consciously with the nervous system so that we can integrate the completion and coherence of these states.
Somatic Experiencing techniques can be used for inquiry, discernment, finding our purpose, supporting the savouring of life...any time we need to access our inner wisdom to find our way through or to find gratitude in how we are living through a deeper connection with ourselves.
I am a bodywork therapist offering Somatic Experiencing to support the physiology of well-being, to renegotiate the impact of stress and trauma on the body, and to find a deeper connection to our inner wisdom. I use Somatic Experiencing Touch for regulation of the nervous system and a sense of coherence throughout the structures of the body. SE Touch includes verbal consent as well as listening to cues from the body to best support each person during the session. I have completed the first module of training in Kathy Kain's Touch Skills for Trauma Therapists. I continue to do the life long work of my own learning, healing and self-regulation, and I am an advocate for bringing trauma-informed awareness into families, the communities we live in, and the world.
Nicola Usher Cell: 519-949-3822 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The cost of a session is $100 for 60 minutes and $130 for 90 minutes. If these costs represent a barrier to working together, please feel free to contact Nicola or Anne-Marie to discuss options.
Somatic Experiencing is offered in person at the clinic, by phone or online.
Click this link for a downloadable version to explain this stabilization process made available through the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute.
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